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What websites can do

Putting up a website can help your company improve customer relations and win new clients or gain additional business from existing ones.
By Ruben Canlas Jr. |

If you don’t have a company website, start asking yourself what business opportunities you are missing. If you do own a website, ask if you are maximizing your website\\\'s potential for gaining new customers and for getting new business from existing ones.

[related|post]Let\\\'s take the case of Cebu Pacific, the airline company. Deploying an easy-to-use, Web-based booking service compensates for the fact that it has fewer ticketing outlets all over the country. And its online booking site is much easier to use than that of Philippine Airlines. This, coupled with cheaper rates, makes it a winning deal for Web-savvy travelers.

Cebu Pacific\\\'s online site clearly demonstrates what a website can do to improve customer relations. Without spending extra on additional ticket outlets, office space, and staff hires, the airline is able to sell more. What\\\'s also amazingly obvious is that the Web presence is available all day long, with no vacations and holidays. It’s also accessible to tourists and OFWs from everywhere.

Selling stuff online is just one way to benefit from the Web. Websites are also a good way to retain and build relationships with customers. Selling to existing customers is easier and cheaper to do than trying to win new ones. Conversely, losing a customer out of frustration or better competition is going to be expensive and painful for you.

 

A TOOL FOR IMPROVING CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS

Companies now use the Web to improve relations with their customers. Most of our local banks now use websites to be more accessible to their customers. Banco de Oro, Metrobank, and Bank of PI now have online sites that allow balance inquiry, money transfers, bills payment—even stock trading (in the case of BPI). With banks offering these conveniences, customers would think twice before switching to the competition.

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Insurance companies and other businesses that involve memberships also gain from self-service websites. With the help of a self-service website, the members themselves can see the status of their payments, loan requests, claims, etc. It gives customers a sense of power to be able to find this information for themselves and not have to depend on a distant call-center agent to search for the data.

The same level of technology would be a boost to major local hotels and resorts. But up to now, hotels and resorts in this country still don\\\'t conduct real-time online bookings. Their websites are mostly just brochure sites with contact information. Booking in this set-up still entails e-mailing a customer representative, a process that often requires you to send your credit card number through an unsecured email message.

Self-service sections on your website will help improve customer satisfaction. One of the earliest uses of websites was, in fact, to provide a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) for confused customers. Schools, gadget companies, and software makers were among the pioneers of FAQs on websites. Users who had trouble using gadgets or software often called by phone to ask for tech support. With the popularity of websites, companies began publishing their own FAQs and redirected their customers to these sites.

Along with FAQs came community forums and knowledge bases—a repository of how-to articles, forum threads, and bits of knowledge culled from online communities. Users could now simply use a search engine to find relevant solutions to their problems. Businesses actually liked the idea of delegating support—at no extra cost—to a community of user-volunteers!

 


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